President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) Chris James says hoteliers and other entrepreneurs on the island are ready for Monday’s full reopening of the economy.
“From my understanding of what they are telling me, they are ready,” he told Sunday Newsday.
In light of declining covid19 deaths and infections, the Prime Minister announced last Saturday the government’s decision to remove safe zones and covid19 restrictions in most sectors.
But citizens will still be required to wear masks in public places, except when engaging in sporting activities.
As of Saturday, Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) began operating 12 daily flights from each island to meet air-bridge demand, particularly for Easter.
James said that although entrepreneurs are grateful for the removal of safe zones and the increase in the number of flights between the two islands, more flights were still needed.
“We are now only up to 12 flights. We used to have 20. And I have already been told that we can’t get flights for Easter again even though they have put the additional flights on.”
As such, he said, “We are not going to see the occupancy that we have seen historically prior to covid19 but it is certainly better than the last two years. So that is a blessing.”
James said the island needed international travellers from countries outside of the UK.
“We do need flights from CAL so we could get the international connections. We have been arguing for so long about an in-transit desk, it is unbelievable. We have only got British Airways and Virgin Flights for international. So, if we could get any of those arrivals from the USA or Canada, that would be great.”
Rene Seepersadsingh, a director of the popular Jade Monkey Casino Bar & Grill, Crown Point, said restaurateurs have been stocking up their business in preparation for the holidays and long Easter weekend.
“I don’t anticipate any problems from Monday.”
He said some businessmen have also hired back their full complement of staff.
“So they will no longer have the rotation they had when they did not have full business.”
Seepersadsingh said businessmen are optimistic that things will pick up.
Executive chairman of Mt Irvine Bay Resorts Jacqueline Yorke-Westcott said they would not have to make any major adjustments to their operations.
“It will be business as usual. We opened in December 2021 so we will just continue,” she said.
Yorke-Westcott said the resort will still observe all of the covid19 protocols.
“So, nothing has changed for us.”